Buttigieg defends Harris after WaPo calls him more effective than VP: Tough assignments 'a sign of respect'

President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law on Monday after weeks of infighting between the party's moderates and progressives

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg celebrated the long-stalled bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law on Monday, and pushed back against reports of White House friction involving Vice President Kamala Harris in an appearance on "Cavuto: Coast to Coast."

Buttigieg, who has become a visible advocate for the administration’s top legislative achievement, hailed the infrastructure package as a means to "expand the productive opportunity and capacity of this country" in an interview with FOX Business host Neil Cavuto.


The 39-year-old former mayor of South Bend came under fire a day earlier for deflecting questions about the bill's impact — and the administration's immediate priorities. On Monday, Buttigieg instead focussed on praising Biden for getting it across the finish line after "more than 30 years of talk and false starts and failed attempts."

"It did take almost three months because of the division within the party," Cavuto interjected, reminding him of the weeks of deadlock caused by "messy" infighting between the party's moderates and progressives. 

"Of course it took a few months to frame and pass the legislation delivering the most transformative infrastructure investment of our lifetime," Buttigieg said, "but if you think about that being achieved within the first year on this administration, giving us the next three years of this term to actually go out and deliver…"

Pete Buttigieg, U.S. secretary of transportation, speaks during a news conference in Westfield, New Jersey, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. The U.S. Senate moved closer to passing a $550 billion infrastructure package after a drawn-out debate pushed a (Getty Images)

The interview took a turn when Buttigieg was asked to respond to reports indicating White House exasperation with Vice President Harris.

Cavuto quoted a recent paragraph from the Washington Post, which contrasts Buttigieg's role in successfully promoting the infrastructure bill to Harris' connection to the administration's "biggest trouble areas."


"In other words, she is in trouble, you are not. What do you make of that?" Cavuto asked.

Buttigieg called their assertion "totally wrong" and pointed to Harris' "very successful diplomatic mission overseas.

"She has been one of the leading figures in making sure that this piece of infrastructure got passed," he insisted. "I could tell you in this administration, being given tough assignments is a sign of respect and confidence, she’s been prepared to take on and lead so many areas, I admire her and I’m proud to work with her and I’m proud to be part of this team that is focused on actually delivering for the American people."

His comment comes after a CNN article on Sunday that suggested "dysfunction" within the vice president's team.

"The appearance they give is just bedlam in her office," Cavuto said.

Buttigieg chalked it up to "parlor games in Washington," calling it a poor attempt  to "gin up drama in an administration that has been unbelievably focused and disciplined."


Instead, Buttigieg argued, viewers should "think about how focussed and disciplined we must have been as an administration to be able to deliver a win on infrastructure that has eluded president after president."